Safety and security
Extreme poverty means that levels of crime, especially in the capital Niamey, are high. Thefts, robberies and residential break-ins can occur at any time. The main type of incident for which British nationals need consular assistance in Niger is theft. Take sensible precautions to keep important items like money, passports, jewellery and mobile phones safe. The areas around the Gaweye Hotel, National Museum and Petit Marché in Niamey are particularly prone to muggings and you should not walk alone there, or cross the Kennedy Bridge on foot at any time. Walking at night is dangerous due to the lack of street lighting.
Car thieves often target off-road vehicles. Make sure car doors are locked at all times.
Banditry, smuggling and other criminal activity is common in border areas, especially after dark.
Bandits are thought to be operating in the border area with Nigeria south of Zinder. You should take special care and avoid crossing the border with Nigeria during the hours of darkness.
There have also been incidents of Nigeriens being killed in the course of hold-ups and robberies on public transport buses travelling between Tahoua and Agadez and between Agadez and Arlit.
British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scams. The scams come in many forms: romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities, and can pose great financial risk to victims. You should treat with considerable caution any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa.
Travel around Niger can be difficult, and conditions are poor for overland travel. You should take all necessary safety precautions, especially outside of main urban areas, have confidence in your security arrangements and maintain a high level of vigilance. Avoid all travel between towns at night. Seek local advice and use local travel agents and guides when travelling outside main towns and in desert areas. An approved local travel agent can arrange all the necessary permits for your journey and leave details of your itinerary with the local authorities. Travel in convoy and carry an independent satellite phone when travelling off the beaten track. You should prepare well in advance and make sure you have a sufficient supply of drinking water and food.
Local authorities are extremely sensitive about foreigners travelling out of Tahoua to other parts of Niger in the east and the north. There is a risk of arrest and deportation for even enquiring about travel to Agadez, given the security situation in that region.
The MNJ armed group has launched attacks in the north including the use of land mines, and Islamist terrorist groups have recently launched attacks in Agadez, Arlit and against a prison in Niamey (see Terrorism section for more details). The Governor of the city of Agadez has banned vehicles without a security forces escort from leaving the city after 4pm. Attacks against tourists are known to take place at El Meki between Agadez and Timia. The Aïr and Ténéré regions are particularly prone to attacks. From 28 November 2014, a curfew has been implemented in the whole of the Diffa region prohibiting the movement of motorised vehicles from 8pm to 6am.
President Issoufou declared a state of emergency on 3 March 2017 in the Diffa region, in Ouallam, Ayorou, Bankilare, Abala and Banibongou (Tillabéri region) and Tassara and Tillia (Tahoua region). This was in response to an escalation in terrorist attacks, especially in the region of Tillabéri near the border area between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. On 16 June 2017, the government extended the state of emergency to include the regions of Diffa, Tillabery and Tahoua in their entirety.
The roads listed below in northern Niger are permanently closed to tourists, except with special authorisation:
- Chirfa (Djado) / Djanet (Algeria)
- Achouloma (north Djado) / Salvador Pass (Libya)
- Adrar Bous (north Aïr) / Djanet (Algeria)
- Adrar Bous (north Aïr) / In Azawa (Algeria)
- Agadez / Arlit / Iferouane
- Agadez / Tahoua
UK driving licences are not valid. If you plan to drive in Niger, you should get an International Driving Permit. This is valid for 3 months, after which you will need to get a Niger licence. You should carry car registration documents with you at all times.
The main roads between Niamey and other large towns are generally satisfactory by African standards, but some roads are pot-holed. Driving standards are poor. Vehicles are often poorly lit at night and there is little street lighting. There have been reports of land mines being used in Burkina Faso on the road between Ouagadougou and Niamey. Seek local advice before making this journey.
Buses operate on routes between Niamey and other large towns, but distances are long and buses are prone to mechanical failure. There have also been incidents of Nigeriens being killed in the course of hold-ups and robberies on public transport buses travelling between Tahoua and Agadez and between Agadez and Arlit.
Taxis are available but are often in poor mechanical condition. Driving standards are poor. On 8 January 2008, a car drove over a landmine in Niamey, killing one person and injuring another. There have also been reports of land mines being used in Burkina Faso on the road between Ouagadougou and Niamey. Local advice should be sought before making this journey.
In the case of an accident, you should go immediately to the nearest police station to file a report: remaining on the spot risks being taken to task, sometimes violently, by the local population. Medical help in the event of an accident is likely to be limited.
President Issoufou was elected in April 2011. He won a second 5-year term in March 2016. Niger has contributed troops to the UN Peacekeeping Mission (MINUSMA) in neighbouring Mali and is committing troops to the regional fight against Boko Haram.
There’s no British Embassy in Niger. The British Ambassador to Niger resides in Bamako, Mali, but the ability of the Embassy to deliver consular services is limited. If you need consular assistance in Niger, contact the British Embassy in Bamako.